A rant about car alarms

Ah, car alarms. Useless for deterring car theft, they do however provide wonderful new ways to annoy people. I was recently – and unavoidably – on a BC Ferry from Vancouver to Victoria and as usual decided not to do battle with the surging crowds of tourists on the passenger decks, preferring instead to stay in my car and read or nap. But as usual the relative peace of the car deck was shattered by car alarms going off every few minutes. There are only four possible reasons for this to occur: first, the car owner may not have realized that ferries move around a lot and will almost always set off their alarm. Hard to believe someone could be that stupid, but no, on second thought, it isn’t. Second, they may have enabled the alarm automatically, without thinking at all, as we do with so many of the repeated tasks in our lives. This is actually almost forgivable, if not for… Third, they don’t realize that their alarm probably has a silent alert option. Fourth, they know damn well it will go off, but don’t care, because they are a jerk.

After enduring this symphony of idiocy for a few minutes, I gave up and started making my way to the upper decks. On my way, I encountered a BC Ferries employee and made a joking reference to idiots and their car alarms. I should point out that I had often wondered why there are no signs on ferries telling people to disable their alarms. Anyway, he admitted that there is a strict BC Ferries policy against telling people not to enable their car alarms. That’s right, staff are not allowed to tell these idiots to stop being so incredibly annoying. Apparently their crack legal staff decided that BC Ferries might be liable if someone with a disabled car alarm had their car stolen on a ferry. Scratch that: where would the thief go with the car? So it must be that BC Ferries doesn’t want to be liable for theft of items from within cars with disabled alarms. And hey, they may be right. Still, I very much doubt a small-time crook would pay $60 for the privilege of working a two hour ferry ride, running around as fast as he can, cracking open cars, avoiding numerous travelers and staff, then dragging his loot back to his car and stuffing it in his trunk. And of course, unless he pays another $60 to wait in line for a couple more hours and ride again, he’ll be in the wrong town. Sorry, I just don’t buy it. Sure, corporate lawyers have to come up with something to make themselves appear useful, but is this the best they can do?

Years ago I lived in Toronto in an apartment building. My windows faced away from the major streets, so it was relatively quiet at night. Except for the idiot who came home from the night shift every night and – at 4am – enabled his car alarm with that loud, oh-so-familiar squawking sound, thereby waking up hundreds of people in the vicinity – including me of course. What this idiot failed to realize is that most car alarms can be enabled silently. Or possibly he knew damn well that this was possible but was just a huge asshat. Or he knew, but was sure everyone who heard it was actually impressed with his toy and secretly jealous of it. None of these options speaks well for this turd.

Now, a quick survey: when was the last time you heard a car alarm and did anything besides a) ignore it or b) groan and cover your head with your pillow? Never, right? What does this say about the efficacy of car alarms? I mean for the purposes of dealing with car-related theft, not for annoying people. So why are people still using the wretched things?

Now, for those interested (and for those of you for whom much of this is news), here are some links to car alarm information that may help you avoid being beaten to death after you smarmily enable your car alarm in the middle of the night – for the last time:
Steering you right: Car alarms
Wikipedia: car alarms
Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City

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